New York, NY

Grace Church, designed by James Renwick, was consecrated in 1846. The first phase of the latest renovation added a new organ and removed some of the “improvements” that had been made over the years.

The vaulted ceiling had been pock-marked with downlights which marred the illusion that the ceiling was made of stone. The designers had those fixtures removed and added new lights to improve the lighting at the altar. The additional fixtures were positioned in ceiling vaults that faced only the front of the church, making them invisible to the seated congregation. The carefully focused fixtures cross-light the altar to reduce glare that impeded the rector’s view of the congregants. Uplights along the clerestory window’s edge gently illuminate the ceiling, bringing the main focus to the altar area. Stained glass windows to the left of the altar receive no daylight, but are made to glow with added rear illumination.

The next phase of the renovation will call for the refurbishment of the chandeliers, using energy-efficient sources and revealing design features that were lost through other renovations.


  • IES Illumination Award of Merit


Walter B. Melvin Architects


Robbie Lawson – Taylor & Boody Organbuilders